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Protecting Juvenile Records in a California Criminal Case

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Jan 25, 2019

When it comes to these juvenile cases, one of my primary goals as a criminal defense attorney who practices in the juvenile area is to try to protect my client's record.  Having a criminal record moving forward with your life — especially at such a young age as a juvenile — is very difficult to get a job, to get education and to advance yourself in your life.

So, what we try to do is set things up so that either right from the beginning we can keep the record clean or set it up so in the future, if the juvenile can show good progress and that they're on the right path, we can get the record sealed and destroyed, which basically means that nobody can get the record.

That includes law enforcement and the prosecutors.  If it's sealed and destroyed properly, the Department of Justice's computer will not sow it and therefore, you will be in a position where your record will be clean moving forward.

Six Months Deferred Entry of Judgment

One potential resolutions when it comes to these juvenile cases is called a Welfare and Institutions Code Section 725 Resolution.  This has to do with a misdemeanor case, and in that misdemeanor case the person actually has to admit the Petition; however, they're not sentenced.

The case is put over for six months.  They're ordered to do certain things — whether it be keep good grades, community service and a host of other potential things depending on what crime they actually committed.  At the end of the six months, if they've done everything they're supposed to do and they're in a position to claim that they've done well in school and they're on the right path, the judge will do two important things.  One, dismiss the case; and two, seal and destroy the record.

Deferred Entry of Judgment Probation

So, this 725 of the Welfare and Institution Code is only available for misdemeanor cases, not felonies.  As far as felony cases go, Welfare and Institution Code Section 790 operates very similar to Welfare and Institution Code Section 725, in that in felony cases somebody would admit the petition and the case would be put over for one year instead of six months.

They would be ordered to do certain things — community service, keep good grades, be cooperative at home and a number of other conditions relative to dealing with the probation officer and shown that you're on the right path.  After the year, the person could withdraw their plea.  The court will dismiss the case and seal and destroy the criminal record.

Informal Probation

Another potential resolution which is even better than both of those is what's called a Welfare and Institution Code 654 resolution.  In this scenario, the case is filed in court.  Instead of you admitting the petition which is very similar to a guilty plea, you don't admit the petition.  The case is put over for six months.  You're ordered to do certain things.

If at the end of the six months, you've done anything, haven't picked up any new cases, get a good report from the probation officer, then the case is dismissed and sealed and destroyed.  So, in this scenario which is better than the last two that I just mentioned, you don't have to plead guilty to anything.  You don't have to admit any petition, and basically, if you do everything you're supposed to, you get the best result you can get in a juvenile case which is the dismissal and the record being sealed and destroyed.

Home on Probation

Other potential resolutions would include somebody getting home on probation.  That would be a scenario where you admit the petition.  You're actually convicted of the crime.  You're placed home on probation where you can still remain, obviously, in your home.  You go to school.  You are monitored by the probation department and under that scenario, as long as it wasn't a crime that you can't get sealed and destroyed, when you turn 18 after you have successfully completed everything, then a motion could be filed with the judge to seal and destroy your record

There are other resolutions that can include you going to camp, the Youth Authority and a host of other bad things related to a juvenile criminal case.  These obviously should all be discussed specifically with your juvenile criminal defense attorney and these are situations where you obviously are charged with much more serious crime than scenarios where you're able to avail yourself of 725, 790 or 654.

All of these scenarios when you're in juvenile court, you definitely want to have a seasoned criminal defense attorney so that you're in a position, especially in these Los Angeles county cases where they're very serious now with these juvenile cases that you can set your record up to be sealed and destroyed.  You can keep yourself out of custody and you can move forward in a positive direction with a positive life.

Pick up the phone.  Call me.  We'll set up an appointment and I'll help you get through your juvenile criminal matter.

Related Resources:
Los Angeles County Juvenile Probation Information
Sealing Juvenile Court Records

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.